GENERAL APPEARANCE - The Boxer is a medium-sized, square built dog of good substance with short back, strong limbs and short, tight-fitting coat. His musculation, well developed, should be clean, hard and appear smooth (not bulging) under taut skin. His movements should denote energy. The gait is firm yet elastic (springy), the stride free and ground covering, the carriage proud and noble. Developed to serve the multiple purposes of guard, working and escort dog, he must combine elegance with substance and ample power, not alone for beauty but to ensure the speed, dexterity and jumping ability essential to arduous hike, riding expedition, police or military duty. Only a body whose individual parts are built to withstand the most strenuous efforts, assembled as a complete and harmonious whole, can respond to these combined demands. Therefore, to be at his highest efficiency, he must never be plump or heavy and, while equipped for great speed, he must never be racy.
The head imparts to the Boxer a unique individual stamp, peculiar to him alone. It must be in perfect proportion to the body, never small in comparison to the over-all picture. The muzzle is his most distinctive feature, and great value is placed upon its being of proper form and in absolute proper proportion to the skull.
In judging the Boxer, first consideration is given to general appearance, next over-all balance, including the desired proportion of the individual parts of the body to each other, as well as the relation of substance to elegance - to which an attractive color or arresting style may contribute. Special attention is to be devoted to the head, after which the dog's individual body components are to be examined for their correct construction and function and efficiency of gait evaluated.
General faults - Head not typical, plump, bull doggy appearance, light- bone, lack of balance, bad condition, lack of noble bearing.
HEAD - The beauty of the head depends upon harmonious proportion of the muzzle to the skull. The muzzle should always appear powerful; never small in its relationship to the skull. The head should be clean. Folds will normally appear upon the forehead when the ears are erect, and they are always indicated from the lower edge of the stop running downward on both sides of the muzzle. The black mask is confined to the muzzle and is in distinct contrast to the color of the head. Any extension of the mask to the skull, other than dark shading around the eyes, creates a somber, undesirable expression. When white replaces any part of the black mask, the path of any upward extension should be between the eyes. The muzzle is powerfully developed in length, width and depth. Its shape is influenced first through the formation of both jawbones, second through the placement of the teeth, and third through the texture of the lips.
The Boxer is normally undershot. Therefore, the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper and curves slightly upward. The upper jaw is broad where attached to the skull and maintains this breadth except for a very slight tapering to the front The incisor teeth of the lower jaw are in a straight line, with the canines preferably up front in the same line to give the jaw the greatest possible width. The line of incisors in the upper jaw is slightly convex towards the front. The upper incisors should fit snugly in back of the lower canine teeth on each side, reflecting the symmetry essential to the creation of a sound, non-slip bite.
The lips, which complete the formation of the muzzle, should meet evenly. The upper lip is thick and padded, filling out the frontal space created by the projection of the lower jaw. It rests on the edge of the lower lip and, laterally is supported by the fangs (canines) of the lower jaw. Therefore, these fangs must stand far apart and be of good length so that the front surface of the muzzle is broad and squarish and, when viewed from the side, forms an obtuse angle with the topline of the muzzle. Over-protrusion of the overlip or underlip is undesirable. The chin should be perceptible from the side as well as from the front without being over-repandous (rising above the bite line) as in the Bulldog. The Boxer must not show teeth or tongue when the mouth is closed. Excessive flews are not desirable.
The top of the skull is slightly arched, not rounded, flat nor noticeably broad, with the occiput not too pronounced. The forehead shows a slight indentation between the eyes and shows a distinct stop with the topline of the muzzle, which must not be forced back into the forehead like that of the Bulldog. It should not slant down (down-faced) nor should it be dished, although the tip of the nose should be somewhat higher than the root of the muzzle. The forehead shows just a slight furrow between the eyes. The cheeks, though covering powerful masseter muscles compatible with the strong set of teeth, should be relatively flat and not bulge, maintaining the clean lines of the skull. They taper into the muzzle in a slight, graceful curve. The ears are set at the highest points of the sides of the skull, cut rather long without too broad a shell and are carried erect. The dark-brown eyes, not too small, too protruding or too deep-set and encircled by dark hair, should impart an alert, intelligent expression. Their mood-mirroring character combined with mobile skin furrowing of the forehead gives the Boxer head its unique quality of expressiveness. The nose is broad and black, very slightly turned up, the nostrils broad with the naso-labial line running between them down through the upper lip which, however, must not be split.
Faults - Lack of nobility and expression, somber face, unserviceable bite. Pinscher or Bulldog head, sloping top line of muzzle, muzzle too light for skull, too pointed a bite (snipy) (snipey). Teeth or tongue showing with mouth closed, driveling, split upper lip, poor ear carriage, light ("Bird of Prey") eyes.
NECK - Round, of ample length, not too short, strong, muscular, clean throughout, without dewlap, distinctly marked nape with an elegant arch running down to the back.
Faults - Dewlap.
BODY - In profile, the build is of square proportions in that a horizontal line from the front of the fore chest to the rear projection of the upper thigh should equal a vertical line dropped from the top of the withers to the ground.
CHEST AND FOREQUARTERS - The brisket is deep, reaching down to the elbows; the depth of the body at the lowest point of the brisket equals half of the height of the dog at the withers. The ribs, extending far to the rear, are well arched but not barrel shaped. The chest is of fair width, and the fore chest well defined being easily visible from the side.
The loins are short and muscular, the lower stomach line lightly tucked up, blends into a graceful curve to the rear. The shoulders are long and sloping, close lying, and not excessively covered with muscle. The upper arm is long, approaching a right angle to the shoulder blade. The forelegs, viewed from the front, are straight, stand parallel to each other, and have strong, firmly joined bones. The elbows should not press too closely to the chest wall nor stand off visibly from it. The forearm is straight, long and firmly muscled. The pastern joint is clearly defined but not distended. The pastern is strong and distinct, slightly slanting, but standing almost perpendicular to the ground. The dewclaws may be removed as a safety precaution. Feet should be compact, turning neither in, nor out, with tightly arched toes (cat feet) and tough pads.
Faults - Chest too broad, too shallow or too deep in front, loose or over-muscled shoulders, chest hanging between shoulders, tied-in or bowed-out elbows, turned feet, hare feet, hollow flanks, hanging stomach.
BACK - The withers should be clearly defined as the highest point of the back, the whole back short, straight and muscular with a firm topline.
Faults - Roach back; sway back, thin lean back, long narrow loins, weak union with croup.
HINDQUARTERS - Strongly muscled with angulation in balance with that of forequarters. The thighs, broad and curved, the breech musculature hard and strongly developed. Croup slightly sloped, flat and broad. Tail attachment high rather than low. Tail clipped, carried upward. Pelvis long and, in females, especially broad. Upper and lower thigh long, leg well angulated at the stifle with clearly defined, well -let -down hock joint. In standing position, the leg below the hock (metatarsus) should be practically perpendicular to the ground, with a slight rearward slope permissible. Viewed from behind, the hind legs should be straight with hock joints leaning neither in nor out. The metatarsus should be short, clean and strong, supported by powerful rear pads. The rear toes just a little longer than the front toes, but similar in all other respects.
Dewclaws, if any, may be removed.
Faults - Too rounded, too narrow, or falling off of croup, low-set tail, higher in back than in front, steep, stiff or too-slightly-angulated hindquarters, light thighs, bowed or crooked legs, cow hocks, over-angulated hock joint (sickle hocks), long metatarsus (high hocks), hare feet, hindquarters too far under or too far behind.
GAIT - Viewed from the side, proper front and rear angulation is manifested in a smoothly efficient, level-backed, ground covering stride with powerful drive emanating from a freely operating rear. Although the front legs do not contribute impelling power, adequate "reach" should be evident to prevent interference, overlap or "side winding" (crabbing). Viewed from the front, the shoulders should remain trim and the elbows not flare out. The legs are parallel until gaiting narrows the track in proportion to increasing speed, then the legs come in under the body but should never cross. The line from the shoulders down through the leg should remain straight although not necessarily perpendicular to the ground. Viewed from the rear, a Boxer's breech should not roll. The hind feet should "dig in" and track relatively true with the front. Again, as speed increases, the normally broad rear track will become narrower.
Faults - Stilted or inefficient gait, pounding, paddling or flailing out of front legs, rolling or waddling gait, tottering hock joints, crossing over or interference - front or rear, lack of smoothness, lack of smoothness.
HEIGHT - Adult males 22 1/2 to 25 inches; females 21 to 23 1/2 inches at the withers. Preferably, males should not be under the minimum nor females over the maximum.
COAT - Short, shiny lying smooth and tight to the body.
COLOR - The colors are fawn and brindle. Fawn shades vary from light tan to stag red or mahogany, the deeper colors preferred. The brindle coat in the Boxer is of two opposite types. The first of these includes those dogs having clearly defined dark stripes on a fawn background. The second type has what is best termed reverse brindling. Here the effect is of a very dark background with lighter colored fawn stripes or streaks showing through. White markings on fawn or brindle dogs are not to be rejected and are often very attractive, but must be limited to one-third of the ground color and are not desirable on the back of the torso proper. On the face, white may replace part, or all of the otherwise essential black mask. However, these white markings should be of such distribution as to enhance, and not detract from the true Boxer expression.
CHARACTER AND TEMPERAMENT - These are of paramount importance in the Boxer. Instinctively a "hearing" guard dog his bearing is alert, dignified and self-assured even at rest. In the show ring, his behavior should exhibit constrained animation. With family and friends, his temperament is fundamentally playful, yet patient and stoical with children. Deliberate and wary with strangers, he will exhibit curiosity but, most importantly, fearless courage and tenacity if threatened. However, he responds promptly to friendly overtures honestly rendered. His intelligence, loyal affection and tractability to discipline make him a highly desirable companion.
Faults - Lack of dignity and alertness, shyness, cowardice, treachery and viciousness (belligerency toward other dogs should not be considered viciousness.
DISQUALIFICATIONS - Boxers with white or black ground color, or entirely white or any color other than fawn or the two types of brindle. (White markings, when present, must not exceed one-third of the ground color).
American Kennel Club Approval, September 9, 1980
From the 1988 American Boxer Club's Specialty Catalogue.
Changes from the 1968 Standard are in red.
Spelling corrections are in blue.
Evolving Boxer Standards:
1902/1904 Official Boxer Standard
1938 Official Boxer Standard
1947 Official Boxer Standard
1951 Official Boxer Standard
1962 Official Boxer Standard
1968 Official Boxer Standard
1980 Official Boxer Standard
1989 Official Boxer Standard
1999 Official Boxer Standard
2005 Official Boxer Standard
Special thanks to Audrey Schnell and Sturlene Arnold for assisting in the research that made these standards possible.